Juan Manuel Marquez proved he still has plenty left in the tank on Saturday night, going to war with Mike Alvarado and capturing a unanimous decision at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
Scores were 117-109, 117-109 and 119-108 for the future Hall of Famer.
Marquez (56-7-1, 40 KO) put on a master boxing clinic in the first half of the fight. He shredded Alvarado with sharp, precise combinations, keeping his opponent on the defensive and unable to get going offensively.
Alvarado (34-3, 23 KO), wary of his foe’s big punching power, showed Marquez far too much respect. He was reluctant to let his hands go, choosing instead to try and outbox one of the best technicians in the game.
It was a tactical error, and it put him well behind and in need of a game-changer in the second half of the fight.
Marquez dropped Alvarado in the closing seconds of Round 8, landing a crisp right-hand counter that literally sent him flying across the ring and under the ropes. Alvarado was badly hurt, but he rose before the count of 10 and was saved by the bell.
With the fight getting away from him, Alvarado came out aggressive in Round 9, evening the score by dropping Marquez with a right hand of his own. That set the tone for the final few rounds, which were the all-out war many were hoping for when this fight was announced.
The two fighters traded bombs in close quarters and both were buzzed on several occasions. Marquez was still the sharper, harder puncher, and he controlled the action. But whenever he buzzed Alvarado it seemed to wake him up and spark his instincts to attack.
Unfortunately for the Colorado native, it was too little, too late.
With the win, Marquez becomes the No. 1 contender for the WBO Welterweight Championship currently held by his longtime rival Manny Pacquiao.